Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Models: Skinny, Poor

The average magazine shoot, for example, pays about $100 a day. For appearing on the cover of Vogue a model gets an additional $300. ... The median income across America in 2009 for a model was $27,330 — income that includes no benefits.

The New Republic's Chloë Schama reviews sociologist and former model Ashley Mears' apparently grim and illuminating Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model, lots of which is available online for free. Modeling: still crazy. But also, champagne.

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Models have the same income and benefits as me!

But they're taller. God damn them.

Edith Zimmerman

@KatnotCat But they have to retire tomorrow!


@KatnotCat Yeah and no one's ever going to tell you to your face (repeatedly) that you're too fat, or bowlegged, or old to work!


@Megan Patterson@facebook Loved how many qualifications that sentence ended up needing.


@Megan Patterson@facebook I have a lot of issues with how the fashion industry treats models (most significantly the preference for and exploitation of underage models) but their lack of a good dental plan ranks low on the list.

$27,330 isn't a shocking median income--the overall median for the U.S. hovers slightly above $30,000. Modeling is usually a part time or seasonal job. Since the term is used generally in the income example, I assume it's including catalogue, trade show, character etc models as well.


@KatnotCat It's probably shocking compared to the median income of TNR readers!


related: I just ate two slices of cake! (see also: will never be a model anyway so why the hell not.)


@Lucia Martinez On Sunday, I bought an ice cream cake for no reason other than I wanted ice cream cake. We finished it last night.


@Lucia Martinez Now I want cake.

Nicole Cliffe

@punkahontas It's totally one of the great mysteries of adulthood to me. Technically, I could go out and buy an ice cream cake every single day, and no one could stop me. And yet, I have all these stupid bags of frozen kale.


@Lucia Martinez: Cake handling procedure -
Child: Scrape off and eat icing; discard cake; ask for more cake
Adult: Scrape off and discard frosting; eat some of cake; feel guilty and bloated as insulin response spikes through roof

Acrylic Disaster

@Lucia Martinez Whoa. I was just about to post the EXACT SAME COMMENT. Yellow layer cake with chocolate icing. You?


That's an awesome income to a 15 year old (and let's face it--most of them are in that ballpark age range these days).


@parallel-lines My thoughts exactly.


wow i just looked up the author of the book (prof. ashley mears) and her research sounds FASCINATING: http://www.bu.edu/sociology/faculty-staff/faculty/ashley-mears/


@plonk She's a fascinating woman!


You can never be too poor or too thin.

Nicole Cliffe

What is the payscale bump for being willing to dance awkwardly to Pitbull while we all watch?

Nicole Cliffe

Also, I love how this is the exact same thing as the Freakonomics piece on how street-level drug dealers aren't really making bank. They should co-unionize!

(Chloe Schama wrote a fun book about a 19th century juicebox, btw: Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial, and a Self-Made Woman)

Lily Rowan

@Nicole Cliffe Not to be a totally boring downer, but the fact is: there is no magic job that lots of people can get that is exciting and lucrative.

Nicole Cliffe

Even...even selling Amway from the comfort of your own home?


@Nicole Cliffe I hear Hairpin contributors/summer editors have it pretty good.


Yeah, but then they get hired to endorse products and be "the face of" stuff and get paid a ton....


@unicornparty I would bet that the number of models who get a ton of money to be the "face" of anything, as a percentage of all models, is pretty low. It's like baseball. Only the tiniest fraction of players get the chance to make it to the big leagues, and only a smaller fraction of those make the big bucks. The rest are grunts traveling from game to game on a bus and getting a dinner stipend.


@boyofdestiny Yeah, but that percentage gets to be rich AND tall! (not too too jealous)


@unicornparty Every day is a struggle to suppress my sincere and hopeless desire to be three inches taller, so I'm gonna leave this thread.


@boyofdestiny Have you tried Frye harness boots? You will be taller AND more badass.


@boyofdestiny: Around the end of puberty and the beginning of driving, I wished myself to 5'10" (as stated on my license at the time.) Slowly I acquiesced and guessed that I was more of a 5'8" guy, which I accepted for years. Recently switched docs and got a routine physical - in which my height, in socks!, was told to me as 5'9". Like Christmas, I tell you.


I've known a few models and most get free travel, free apartments around the world. Would be nice to have a few years to live free, only work part time and get paid that much. Most also modeled to get themselves through school. When I was in school I made $8,000 a year tops. I don't feel too bad for them.


@m1chelle The "free" part isn't so much free as the agency just deducting it from your earnings.


@DorothyMantooth And all those travel and housing costs add up quick. There are plenty of young, not-famous models who end up in debt to their agencies because of this.


This reminds me to mention that Elyse Sewell's blog was the smartest, funniest thing ever, back when she was traveling around Asia and posting regularly. I recommend checking it out.


@melmuu Yes! And there was that crazy drama with the dude from The Shins! I need to go see what she's up to.


@Slutface what DID happen to her? she just abandoned the blog one day and i miss it/her.


@melmuu I LOVED Elyse's blog! I still read it when I want to be inspired by a great turn of phrase ('I ain't dickin with no candy thermometer' springs to mind). The TV Without Pity forums kind of keep tabs on her, but it seems she's pretty determined to stay out of the spotlight. Which is fair enough, but I wish she'd write more.


So naturally slim, largely-white women with beautiful faces get paid 27,000 to look the way they do, show up when they're needed, be completely pampered with makeup artists and clothing, then pose and be photographed? Sounds pretty sweet to me. I've done way more work for way less money and fame.

Of course, the above is a painfully-broad paintbrush statement. But I'm positive that cleaning vomit and diarrhea out of a McDonalds bathroom for minimum wage is worse than what models have to go through.


Not white, but yeah.
My first national campaign paid $250. BUT they gave me clothes! They fed me lunch! I did next to nothing!
I was in college and it was _totally_ a complaint-free situation. Also, I supplemented by bartending and hostessing in nightclubs with strict/shitty door policies.
And yeah, plenty of free stuff all around. It was FINE.

Amanda McNeil@twitter

Why is everyone jealous that they're tall? I like being short, thank you very much. It makes me cuddly and adorable.


@Amanda McNeil@twitter I like being short, but it gives me the advantage in absolutely no lucrative career. Also, my roommate keeps putting the bowls on the top shelf.

H.E. Ladypants

@Amanda McNeil@twitter I've always wanted to be short for just that reason! Being able to be imposing is nice but sometimes I wish I could be cute.

Also, being shorter widens your dating pool! A lot of men won't date taller women. Weirdly most of the men I've dated have been almost exactly my height. The really tall ones won't go for me, either.


@H.E. Ladypants: Tall can be cute; some taller girls seem endearingly clumsy.

Let me qualify this, I mean this in a positive way. As in, I think it's attractive and a positive trait.

H.E. Ladypants

@Amanda McNeil@twitter I'm also very clumsy and sadly, not one person in my life has ever decided it was charming. Hysterically funny? Yes. Cute? No.

Ah well, there are strengths and weaknesses to everything. On the bright side I can reach the top shelf and when I wear heels I have PRESENCE.


@Too Much Internet I am short and clumsy. Is this endearing? Like, I have a habit of moving too quickly and forgetting where my head is and actually smashing it into inanimate objects like car doors and shelves. If this would attract dates, it might make me feel better about the resulting bruises.


@MissMushkila: No, you must be swift and agile if you are short, like a ninja.


@Amanda McNeil@twitter I am 5'9.5", and cute is the most common adjective people use to describe me. Tall ladies can be cute too! Even when we don't want to be!

No Sex City@twitter

"But also, champagne." -- And free clothes. Can't forget that.


Used to work for a government agency that collects taxes...and I audited a model whose taxable income was well over the amount quoted. But there's a lot of non-monetary things are that taxable in that lifestyle...anyway.

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